Stoking the Fire of Stakeholders in the Fight Against Chronic Disease
Chronic disease prevention holds great promise for reducing our nation’s healthcare spending, but it is critical that we take steps to spend more effectively when it comes to treating, preventing and better managing overall health in order for positive changes to take hold. Improvements in personal health behaviors and investment by business and the healthcare system in population health improvement could save millions of lives, and trillions of dollars. Perhaps most important though, all these potential changes also require active support from both the public and private sectors and a broad spectrum of stakeholders in order to realize, and especially to sustain, true change.
This month, the Hope Street Group announced the release of its newest publication, Tipping the Scales: Engaging Community Stakeholders to Build a Culture of Health. The culmination of a research project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the paper includes recommendations from more than 55 healthcare stakeholders on how to reorient care towards prevention, wellness, and better disease management through collaborative health initiatives that prioritize health and wellness as cultural norms.
This paper explores the elements of chronic disease prevention outreach that, when paired with promising initiatives to encourage healthy eating and promote exercise, have the potential to vastly improve health outcomes in our country. Including input from important voices in the field of health engagement, the paper focuses on upstream measures and encourages a sense of shared responsibility for disease prevention among community members. Many stakeholders, from advocacy groups and employers to policymakers and educators, can play a vital role in empowering a strong culture of health in communities throughout the country, and across the globe.
Several key goals uncovered in the paper aim to improve and further current and potential efforts, including:
- Improving the language and breadth of tools used in outreach and education,
- Framing efforts around regional economic development, and
- Seeking out and implementing unique partnerships.
Through robust knowledge sharing and aligned action, we can and will achieve a healthier America and make progress in the fight against chronic disease, the number one cause of death, disability and rising healthcare costs in our country today. The findings in this paper are intended to provide broad principles and a set of expert recommendations to help initiate fundamental collaboration among stakeholders, as well as to identify each potential roles, limitations, and motivations. The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease applauds the Hope Street Group for setting forth this action provoking paper.
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Kenneth Thorpe, Ph.D., is the Robert W. Woodruff Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Policy & Management, in the Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He also co-directs the Emory Center on Health Outcomes and Quality. He was the Vanselow Professor of Health Policy and Director, Institute for Health Services Research at Tulane University. He was ...